When I first got the idea to do Energy Hook I planned on Kickstarting ASAP so I could see just how brilliant or dumb an idea it was. But in the process of working on the pitch and prototype I've fallen in love with it. I can't not finish it now. So I'm going to. Finish it. No matter what, even if I don't make a cent off it.
I want to do the Kickstarter anyway. Why? To find out if I should make the smallest, minimally viable game possible - or if we'll have the resources to do something grander.
That being the case, Paul urged me to wait more on the Kickstarter, so we can make the game look as good as possible before we pass the hat around. I really didn't want to wait. I've already postponed it once.
So I did that thing that people do when they have tough decisions. I made a list of pros and cons. It looked something like this:
Should I do the Kickstarter now?
Although the list of pros seems longer than the list of cons - the pros are mostly psychological issues of my own. Yes, I'm devoting too much brain glucose to thinking about the Kickstarter, but I don't have to be. Yes, I'm working harder on making our Kickstarter pitch look good than making the game good, but I don't have to be. Yes, I'm embarrassed about slipping again, but I don't have to be.
And yes, "Kickstarter fatigue" seems to be setting in; there are fewer successes on Kickstarter these days. But I don't want people to fund the game because Kickstarter is hot, I want people to fund the game because they genuinely think it's worth funding.
The only semi-reasonable pro is the one about redoing work, but if we raise enough funding that we have to redo work, that's ... actually a really good problem to have.
So, the cons have it! We're slipping.
Our new plan is to get something playable going, which could take anywhere from 1-3 months, all the while Paul making more better art. He's finished his teaching gig at Digipen and has more free time to make stuff. Then we'll have something to hand out to a few select journalists and players. (Which is another reason to Like us on Facebook - we'll give away one or two to our FB followers.) And then we'll do the Kickstarter.
What do you think?
That's right, sixty second shooter Deluxe has won Playstation.Blog's Playstation Mobile Game Of The Year Gold award.
I wonder what sort of sales bump this news might get. All I can do is check the number of reviews that the game's gotten. It's been a while since I've checked, unfortunately, and although it's gone up a few since I last checked, no way to tell if that's in response to this news.
I am expecting my first month's sales data any day now...
I heard this definition of 'Proactive' once: fire erupts in the office. The reactive worker grabs a fire extinguisher and puts it out, but the proactive worker has already installed a sprinkler system. (The retroactive worker simply does nothing and says, "I told you we should install a sprinkler system." Jerk.)
If that's really how to define 'proactive', then it sounds good on the surface. You're always prepared for every eventuality. If we look closer, though, we realize that the proactive worker seems to always be engaged in risk management. They install sprinkler systems, they buy insurance, they consult their lawyers, they file the proper paperwork, they get permission, they look before they leap. All of this takes a lot of time and money. If one of those bad eventualities happens, you're glad you were prepared, but I'm thinking it's quite possible that the expense in risk-avoidance ends up being higher than the expense of having to put out that fire that erupts once in a while. Talking expected value here.
Coming from a corporate background, we were very risk-avoidant at Torpex. We limited our liability. We consulted lawyers. We had E&O insurance. We made everyone sign NDA's. We operated in stealth mode. We didn't show Schizoid to people because, "What if they clone it?" We often refused to pitch games to publishers because, "We can only pull back the curtain once, you know." We didn't share with other indies how our games were selling.
So we succesfully avoided some worst-case scenarios--this is the only clone of Schizoid I know of (but would anyone have cloned it anyway?)--but who knows how many opportunities we passed up? Opportunities to network - opportunities to find clients - opportunities to build our social networks - opportunities to raise awareness - opportunities to earn favor and respect. And how much did we spend, in time and money, on the legal stuff and insurance and fear and anxiety in general?
So I've mostly been trying the opposite approach this time. I've signed contracts without consulting lawyers; I've done jams with no agreements about who-owns-what in place; I've never made anyone sign an nda; I've announced games after working on them just a few days; I've put up trailers showing incomplete work. When problems arise - like somebody complaining about the way the water looks in the trailer - I fix them, maybe. (I'll show y'all that tomorrow.)
(I do have an offsite backup, though. Losing my work is a worst-case-scenario too grim to fathom.)
I didn't even have a separate bank account for the company until I needed one to get paid.
Is this sounding familiar? It's being agile, isn't it? Maybe it's not just good for software development. Time will tell...
So, yeah. I don't like being proactive. Not if it means risk management. I like showing initiative.
By the way - I'm running out of ideas for the Corporate to Indie Mistakes thing. Anybody care to share some juicy mistakes?
And please Like Happion Labs on Facebook, y'all.
So, nobody having come up with a better idea, we'll be giving away "Backer Upgrades" on the Facebook page over the next several weeks up until the Kickstarter launches.
Like most, the Kickstarter is going to have a few levels of virtual rewards - you get the game when it ships (let's call that 'gamma'); you get early access, to the beta ('beta'); you get early-early access, to the alpha ('alpha'); and you get some kind of extra something that we haven't figured out yet ... cheats unlocked just for you, A+ gear, or something like that ('alpha plus').
Despite all my talk about being a happy game developer I'm actually super-anxious about the upcoming Kickstarter launch. I think I'm more anxious about it than I've been about any actual finished games I've shipped!
Why the heck is that?
A combination of things, I guess:
I don't know who she is or what her credentials are - in fact, it's possible she took a series of articles about how to do marketing for shoes, crossed out 'shoes' and wrote in 'games' - but this Emmy Jonassen has posted a bunch of very wise-sounding stuff about how to do a Kickstarter, and that's what I've lately been using for a playbook. I'm on phase two now. But I'm behind schedule. I was supposed to be contacting journalists weeks ago, and I wasn't able to bring myself to do that. (Though happily, Khris Golder of the up-and-coming GamerCheese actually reached out to me, and we got an interview up yesterday.)
After all, I'm supposed to have a teaser trailer ready first. So. Finally 'finished' that - and by 'finished' I mean cradling my head in my hands in front of my desk going "this looks so amateur", seeing nothing but flaws, so Cathy looked into my office and was all 'What's wrong?' so I showed her the video and she sat there in silence for a moment and then was just like, "Um ... is it done?" and my heart sank further and I was like, "Yeah, except for the music" ... which helped a lot, actually (George Ellinas - shit I forgot to credit him on the youtube page, brb) ... but I was not confident.
But, like I said in my post on perfectionism, sometimes you just have to set a deadline and ship what you've got.
And so yesterday I did the contacting journalists thing, more or less just as Ms. Jonassen described. (Though she says we're actually supposed to call people, like, on the phone? Who has their phone numbers listed anywhere?) And I heard back from a couple whom I already knew from previous games, who said they'd try to get something up - but mostly crickets.
So it was stressful and anxious-making. But I wouldn't call it unhappy. There's no way to get all the stress out of your life ... "You can't keep birds from landing on your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair." I still managed to get in some quality family time last night, watch some TV with the wife, get a good night's sleep.
And in the morning - fucking awesome! We're in Rock, Paper, Shotgun and ShogunGamer! And 1 out of 10 people who have watched the teaser trailer Liked it! And all these positive comments! (And I also have other positive news which I should keep secret for now.)
I'm over the moon. Maybe this will really work! But I like to think I'd still be happy even if I hadn't gotten that external validation.
Here's that trailer.
Come join in. (But you know you could Ask Me Anything in the comments on the blog, anyway, whenever, right?)
Do you have an Xperia Play, Sony Tablet, or other Playstation Mobile-certified device? Then head on over to http://www.playstation.com/psm/index_e.html to get the correct version of PSM for your device. (Sorry, support for the HTC One X isn't up and running yet. That's my phone, too, and I'm as impatient as you are.)
Do you have none of the above? Then no soup for you, you'll have to settle for the free version.
I'm super-thrilled by the response so far. "Bloody amazing" "Fantastic on Vita" "Easy to pick up and play, tight controls, lots of explosions" And last I checked it still had a 5.0 / 5.0 user rating in the store.
Oh yes! So, until PSN support becomes available, I invite everyone to post photos of your highscores to the facebook page. Yay ghetto leaderboards! (I'll get mine on their soon, promise.)
Okay, it's official!
On Halloween, you could go to a costume party, or do some trick or treating, or take your kids trick or treating, or ...
... you could download and play sixty second shooter Deluxe for Playstation Mobile!
Or, you know, you could do all of the above. Because sixty second shooter Deluxe can be enjoyed in bite-sized doses, just a minute or two at a time.
Bite-sized doses? I mixed my metaphors there. Anyhow.
OCTOBER 31ST, 2012! SIXTY SECOND SHOOTER DELUXE!
And, in case you didn't know, Playstation Mobile means you can play it on your Playstation Vita, or on various Playstation Mobile-certified Android devices, such as the HTC One X (my favorite phone of late) or Xperia Play or Sony Tablet.
Here, have a trailer!